An Expat Life- 'wait and see'

Over the years, people have asked me how our expat life came about. I have had mixed reactions to my answers. "For heaven sake, how could you take your family and do that?" is what one woman said to me as she exclaimed that she would never allow her husband to even suggest it.  I suddenly felt very sorry for her husband. Others would gladly pack their bags and be on the next plane out.

If presented the opportunity to move abroad, you have to think long and hard about what it means to you and your family. It is not a decision to make lightly and there is no right or wrong answer.   It is a personal choice and sometimes you just have to hope you made the right one.

As expat assignments go I have to say we have been very fortunate. We have had two assignments in Sydney, Australia, one in Auckland, New Zealand and one in Surrey, England. I often think we should use the expat term loosely as we have never truly experienced an 'expat community' where we have had to live in a foreign speaking country. It has been easy for us to assimilate and carry on. The differences are marked but there have been very few hardships. 

We are not done with this wanderlust lifestyle. Travelling is the easy part, raising children in the midst of it all is the more challenging aspect of an expat life. I say this with my #1 living in Australia, #2 living in New Zealand, #3 planning to go to college in America and #4 being the greatest challenge of all. He is 11 years old and we have to make plans. We will not be in England forever, in fact the winds of change, which I wrote about here, are blowing thru our life again. Timing is always the question, one year, 2-3 years..who knows. Life in the corporate world is like a game of Dominoes. Everything stands in perfect order until one falls over. You have to be ready to slide back in whenever and wherever is needed. There are three words that are spoken with regularity in our home 'wait and see'. As frustrating as that sounds, it's all you can do. 

I knew what I was in for from the get go.  When Mr. H. and I met, he was in graduate school studying International Affairs and I was putting a few notches on my belt whilst climbing the corporate ladder. We were both 27 years old. He had lived in various countries in Africa by then and I had managed a few short breaks overseas travelling the Club Med circuit. Our perspectives of the world were markedly different. He had recently returned from the Peace Corp in Africa having taught English and mastering the art of building chicken coops and I was strategising my next move within the arena of corporate politics. More on how we met here.

Love has it's way of working magic and within two years we married. On the day we married, we departed for a life in Sydney and so the story began. During the past 25 years we had a 10 year break back in America..the rest have been spent overseas. We have now spent more time overseas than in our home country which puts us in a very tricky situation. Where is home?

We have two homes, one in Sydney and one in Auckland...we wait. We obtained Australian citizenship along the way with intentions of retiring in Sydney. Funny thing about that word 'retire' seems to be elusive. I remember when it was 40, than 50, than 55 and now 60. We have regular conversations, Mr. H. and I, about the future, but they seem to end with those three little words 'wait and see'.

So hear I sit, that breeze is blowing thru our lives again and I have to wonder... when?....where? long? and then what?

It's an expat life...I just have to wait and see.

a few stamps in my passport
Thank you for reading along. Sometimes writing
helps to see what lays ahead more clearly. 
It is part of the journey:)


  1. I see Australia features in your picture in this post....will you be heading down under again soon I wonder? I hope so because then I can personally thank you for the DIVINE gifts I received in the mail today!

    Thank you so much Jeanne for such thoughtful and beautiful gifts. I love the Kitchen towel and tea and the CD looks brilliant! I will be listening to it on my drive to the beach this weekend and I will read the book on the beach and think of you!

    My 11 year old son is going through a big change soon. He will be starting at a new school next term and even though he is nervous he is very excited. I am sure your young man will be just as excited and happy wherever he is so long as he is with you!

    Best wishes and happy day,

  2. Oh, Jeanne, I relished this post. It filled in so many pieces of my 'Jeanne puzzle'. I really admire the way you approach such a peripatetic lifestyle. Bravo! J x

  3. I love that you said there are no right or wrong answers, and clearly there aren't. You've made a wonderful life for yourself and your family, and though that life has been in various countries with a huge range of experiences, it's a beautiful life.

    Though I am sure it isn't always easy with children, I do think it's an incredible gift you have given your children - to expose them to ways of living and cultures that are varied is truly a gift.

    I think you and Mr. H. can ponder the question of "Of where to next" in such a open a beautiful way - a way that lets you know that wherever you end up, it will be the right place.

    Lovely post!

  4. I do hope you don't leave before we have the chance to meet Jeanne...but I do understand the 'wait and see' approach. Your attitude is wonderful ....xv

  5. It sounds exciting sitting here at my window, but I know it must occasionally be quite a challenge. GIven the fact that I am such a nester, I would no doubt find it difficult to leave certain houses and streets.

    Funny, that word retirement. Songwriters are totally ignorant of its definition!

  6. Thank you is so nice to hear from everyone!
    I wrote this post and went seemed the only solution :)

    Vicki...I would love to meet someday! I have had the pleasure of meeting Pamela @ The House of Edward and a phone chat with Sharon @ My French Country Home...two exceptional women..

    Jane..I had to look up peripatetic..I love new words, a person who travels from place to place. I feel a post coming on now just around that word. Maybe a little research into famous peripatetic souls ;)

    Marion..your comment is so appreciated, especially after reading your post today. Thank you :) are very welcome! Aren't 11 year olds wonderful...if only we could keep them at that age :)

    Pamela...I think your Songwriter has the right idea...we are just entering the best part of our life, who wants to retire. I think I will ask Jane to find a new word for us :)

  7. I think that you have such a great attitude about it, no matter where you end up, I know that you will adjust and flourish.

  8. Absolutely fascinating! Your life sounds like an adventure but I'm sure the uncertainty can be wearing as well. With your last child still growing, his schooling and stability is uppermost in your mind too, I'm guessing. Whatever your answers become to these questions of where and when, I'm sure you'll be phenomenal parents wherever you are and live an equally fascinating life....again!

    P.s. I'd pick two of the big cats for Mr. H for the back yard!! One would be too lonely.

  9. Jeanne, Have you ever read the book "Third Culture Kids." It describes the effects -both wonderful and hard - of growing up in a culture other than your passport culture. I bet you would find it interesting. I, myself, am a tck (third culture kid).

    This was a great post.


  10. I mentioned you in my post today, with a link to this blog. You will have to pop on and read. :)


  11. Snap Jeanne!! You captured it so well. xx